Tommy's PregnancyHub

Does exercise cause premature birth?

Not in itself. In fact, women with uncomplicated pregnancies who exercise have been shown to have a reduced risk of premature birth.

If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, it is safer to exercise than not. For example, women who exercise have less risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, which are both risk factors for premature labour.

One study showed that women who had been active before pregnancy but stopped in their first trimester had longer labour times. They were also more likely to have medical assistance during labour than those who exercised throughout their pregnancy.

Staying active can also:

If you have a high risk of premature birth

If you have had a previous premature birth or if you have been told you are at higher risk of premature labour, talk to your GP or midwife before starting an exercise plan.

Although exercise alone does not cause premature birth, it is possible that it could complicate an existing problem, such as a weak cervix.


Listen to your body and if something does not feel right, see to your midwife or GP.

  1. Juhl M, Andersen PK, Olsen J, Madsen M, Jørgensen T, Nøhr EA, Andersen AM (2008). Physical exercise during pregnancy and the risk of preterm birth: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167 (7): 859–66: 
  2. RCOG (2006). Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  3. Tinloy J, Chuang CH, Zhu J, Pauli J, Kraschnewski JL, Kjerulff KH (2014). Exercise during pregnancy and risk of late preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and hospitalizations’, Women’s Health Issues, 24 (1): e99–e104: doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.11.003.
Review dates
Reviewed: 31 July 2018
Next review: 31 July 2021

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